Allisun Hull leads an Orange Yoga class in Abiquiú.
ON A SUNNY MORNING with a slight breeze and just a few white clouds in a bright blue sky, we park at a Santa Fe National Forest trailhead. Stacy Kinsley, founder of Yogi Hiker, hands me a yoga mat. She shoulders a backpack, picks up her trekking poles, and leads three of us up a trail lined with yellow chamisa blooms and shaded by ponderosa pines.
We hike for about 45 minutes, covering roughly two miles up to a ridgeline overlooking Santa Fe, gathering at a place just off the trail where Kinsley has practiced yoga so often that it now feels sacred to her. The dark earth is clear of pine cones and rocks. Our mats roll out. After years of practicing yoga in studios, I will soon find myself doing tree pose, face-to-face with a ponderosa pine, and notice that, like me, it also sways a bit in the breeze. “The forest really is my co-teacher,” Kinsley says as we begin our practice, hands in a prayer position, over our hearts. She invites us to close our eyes and listen to the uncommon quiet around us. For one blissful hour, her meditative pace from one pose to the next encourages us to be present and patient, to stretch and reset, building from the ground up, from feet that touch the earth to arms that reach for boughs above. “It’s a process of unwinding and spending time in this place,” she says. “I want you to take in the experience of the forest and that wild side.”
Kinsley turned to yoga during a high-voltage career in sales in Wisconsin. She saw a sign for a yoga class and it was as if a door opened to another way of living. Doing yoga regularly, her children quickly observed, made all the difference in whether Mommy was happy.
Yoga was her cardio workout until she and her family chased sunshine to New Mexico about a decade ago, when hiking took that role and her yoga practice turned more restorative. She merged the two into a business idea she got from her mother, who had read about people hiking into the woods and practicing yoga there. Kinsley has done just that for six summers now, pricing the three-hour excursion at $108 per person for groups of two or more and booking on request between April and November.
“It’s a really nice combination,” she says. “Hiking is so preparatory in so many ways, getting the muscles warmed up, getting the chatter out of the body, and then once we hit the yoga spot, it’s an invitation to dive deeply in, and it happens really organically.” Lying flat during the shavasana portion of our practice, I watch those few wisps of clouds drift overhead and the trees swirl in small circles, then let my eyes close and the quiet take over. As we come up from that final resting pose, one participant who has joined us mostly for the hike declares, “I’d do yoga every day if I could do it out here.”
Yogi Hiker offers three-hour hike/yoga excursions in Santa Fe; $108, by appointment, April–November (505-819-8445, yogihiker.com).
Embrace a self-care trinity of hiking, yoga, and hot springs during Orange Yoga’s four-day retreats in rural New Mexico. At an upcoming Abiquiú retreat, hikers will head into the red-rock mesas that entranced Georgia O’Keeffe, soak in Ojo Caliente’s mineral baths, then hit the mat at the Abiquiú Inn. Every fall in Jémez Springs, attendees cozy up in a small bed-and-breakfast, hike to wilderness hot springs, and practice yoga at least twice a day against a backdrop of steep canyon walls and forested peaks.
“Our world is so saturated with distractions, technology, and news, and all of the pressures and responsibilities that we have going on in our lives, it’s so important for us to step away from our daily routine,” says Allisun Hull, who founded the Albuquerque-based program in 2011. Every retreat activity is optional; Hull advises students to simply practice being present with each moment and assess their own needs.
Orange Yoga’s four-day retreat in Abiquiú, May 10–13, 2018, starts at $300, not including lodging at the
Abiquiú Inn. The Jémez Springs fall retreat (dates to come) starts at $325, including a shared room (orangeyogaabq.com).
You don’t have to get out of town for a yoga class that feels like a getaway. Ashley Fathergill, founder of YogaZo, ditched the brick-and-mortar studio model and instead teaches classes at a dozen unusual locations around Albuquerque, including breweries such as Marble, Boxing Bear, Rio Bravo, and Bow & Arrow. At the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center’s Pueblo Harvest Cafe, yoga comes with brunch. Twice a month during the summer, students meet on the farm at Los Poblanos Historic Inn. In spring and summer, full-moon classes stretch out on the roof of the Banque Lofts building, downtown, and the YogaZo crew plans a full schedule of special events during October’s Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. The unusual locations and social approach welcome beginners, who soon make friends.
“Yes, we’re doing yoga, but that’s not actually our priority,” Fathergill says. “Our priority is one community and one breath. People are yearning for it.”
YogaZo has daily classes at various Albuquerque sites. Check the calendar for specialty classes, workshops, and retreats (937-671-8917, yogazoabq.com).
Take in vinyasa, yin, sacred hot yoga, and kundalini classes, July 27–29, 2018, when this nonprofit retreat center in northeastern New Mexico draws on the skills of a regional “yoga teacher tribe.” Live musicians accompany some classes, while others take place outside, even atop a nearby volcano. The Mandala Center, laid out in the shape of a sacred design from Vedic tradition, hugs the side of Sierra Grande Mountain, about 35 miles east of Ratón and a four-hour drive from Albuquerque. The retreat aligns with the full moon, when Vedic astrology promises the healing of ancestral karma, says organizer Colette Mee Chong-Armijo. “It’s an opportunity for people to come and be nourished,” she says. Attendees can also receive Reiki treatments and massage or experience a gong bath, a meditative seven-hour immersion in sound and vibrations.
Mandala Center yoga retreat, July 27–29, 2018; $450, including lodging (575-278-3002, mandalacenter.org).
SANTA FE YOGA FESTIVAL
For the past five years, this event has drawn fans and practitioners to the Plaza over Labor Day weekend for yoga, meditation, and Ayurvedic medicine. Previous festivals have included such renowned yoga teachers as Tias Surya Little, of Prajna Yoga, and musical guests Michael Franti, Grace Potter, and Robert Mirabal. “One thing is for sure: It will be the place to be if you love yoga,” says outgoing executive director and founder Kurt Young.
Santa Fe Yoga Festival, August 31–September 2, 2018; $99 for a one-day pass, $299 for a full festival pass (santafeyogafestival.org).